When you work for a big organisation, it’s easy to feel like a small fish in a big pond. You get lost in a sea of faces, most of whom you’ve never met. I affectionately refer to people according to their approximate occupation, e.g. “that guy from IT”, or the group of ladies that come to the “Scoff house” at 1pm sharp as, “The Fundraisers”. I say approximate, because almost daily I see someone new walking around the centre and think, “I’ve no idea who you are or what you do.” Each of our roles, playing some kind of part in the running of the organisation. Probably…
Just the other day I watched 4 people erect an inflatable tent and wash it with a hose… 4 people. We’re lucky if we have that number of nurses in the entire building some days.
All of these people leave at 17:30 and disappear for holidays and weekends. And I don’t begrudge them this; I chose my occupation. But it’s the nurses that stay and work with the patients 24/7 and coordinate the centre and manage the risks.
At Christmas all of the staff across all departments were given a bonus- an afternoon off! As one of my colleagues replied to the email, “That’s great, we’ll take the patients home with us, shall we?” None of the nursing staff saw that time.
I think my point is, that an organisation is like a human body. I know that analogy is overused, but it’s true. One system cannot function without the others, the same as the departments within an organisation.
Similarly though, some of the body’s systems are able to compensate when others start to fail. These systems can only do this for so long, however, before their own resources become overwhelmed and they too start failing. We can see this happening in most healthcare settings as we speak, including the NHS and ambulance service.
I don’t think it’s difficult… Staff and departments thrive, when they are given the right things- the right equipment, the right recognition, the right encouragement, the right values, the right skills and the right empathy. Maybe we notice this more within the nursing team, because we can’t function without showing each other these things. Frustration builds so damn quickly within a team, when staff feel unappreciated, under valued, over worked and suffocated by a lack of opportunities for progression.
A CEO or director can sit atop the hierarchy and bark orders but the structure is only as strong as those at the foundation. At the end of the day, the turnover of staff will always be high and employee satisfaction low, if the organisation has no heart in it. I’ve learned that charities are not always charitable- it’s still a business.